Irish Government Moves Into The Digital Age By Treating Everything Like Paper

from the progress,-eh?-not-sure-I'm-familiar-with-that-term... dept

Updating laws for the digital age is hard. Apparently. Maybe it’s just a government problem. After all, an entity that generally moves at the speed of a narcoleptic sloth and with the grace of an ocean liner can’t be expected to turn on a dime and start bureaucratizing like it’s 1999.

The Irish government is currently in the process of updating its Freedom of Information laws, and from the looks of what’s surfaced so far, it’s attempting to legislate itself back to the mid-1970s.

Section 17 (4) (b) in particular contains the following restriction on how much freedom you can expect your information to have.

“[T]he FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, having due regard to the steps that would be considered reasonable if the records were held in paper format…”

This then is the yardstick by which ‘reasonable’ action shall be based. You only have to do it if it was reasonable if everything was printed out and you had only paper to work with.

Query a database? Sure, it might only take a moment to use the search box. But if I had to print it all out and go through it by hand, that would be an unreasonable demand. So, no.

It’s almost as though someone caught the government inadvertently dragging itself into the digital age and ordered the Efficiency Committee to take a long look at the bill’s wording and see if there wasn’t some excess efficiency that couldn’t be streamlined out.

If this bill passes, FOI requests in Ireland will be treated as if the government is putting its best men (and women) on it, even if it’s really just a bored intern running some surface-level searches. Sure, Ted the lazy but relatively competent, unpaid intern may be able to access the appropriate documents and spit them out of the nearest laser printer in 5-10 minutes, but in doing so, has completely undercut the nearly-universal governmental tendency to add extra steps to processes and racking up amazing amounts of man-hours/woman-hours.

The Irish government is rooted in years of tradition (“rooted” being the key) — as it always was, so shall it always be. This purity will be maintained even if it means carving out alternate realities with creative legislation.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Irish Government Moves Into The Digital Age By Treating Everything Like Paper”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

The outrage machine reads the language in question as “only produce stuff if it would have been reasonable to produce it were it on paper”. Could the language really be intended to prevent agencies from saying “it’s too complicated and expensive to answer that request because the info is held in a computer” for info that would be easily available were it held on paper?

Claire Ryansays:


Irish person here. No, the point of this is to stop Irish journalists and whatnot from getting too much information. It’s effectively a get-out clause for the government if they don’t want to reveal something – ‘sorry, not reasonable, we can’t give you that info.’

There’s one particular journalist by the name of Gavin Sheridan who’s been making a lot of FOIA requests to get anything out of the government, and the number of bullshit excuses they use to get out of it is staggering. So this looks like just another they can use if needed.

Seriously, I don’t think you realise just how completely fucked up the Irish government is… if someone told me tomorrow that they’d decided to only accept requests by carrier pigeon, I’d believe it. And the very idea that they’d do something that isn’t completely self-serving and tainted by cronyism or flat-out incompetence is ridiculous to me at this point.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it